News / Europe

Greeks, Riot Police Clash During Protest Over Spending Cuts

Greek protester uses a baton to hit a riot police officer during clashes in Athens' main Syntagma square, June 15, 2011
Greek protester uses a baton to hit a riot police officer during clashes in Athens' main Syntagma square, June 15, 2011

In Greece, two major unions went on strike and tens of thousands of people took to the streets on Wednesday.  It is a public protest against government plans to toughen the country’s austerity measures and save the country from financial ruin. 

More than 20,000 people took to the streets of Athens, and in Thessaloniki in northern Greece, another estimated 20,000.

They were protesting against government plans to raise taxes and cut spending.

The demonstrations were mostly peaceful, but in the capital, at the Syntagma Square outside parliament, riot police fired tear gas at a group of protestors who were armed with petrol bombs.

Inside parliament, lawmakers debated the controversial new austerity package worth around $40 billion that is causing major public discontent.

One young Greek told reporters that something has to be done to reverse the government plans.

She says at 25 years old, she does not know what will happen to her future.  She says she is very angry about the situation.

But the Greek government is struggling to come up with a way to balance the country’s spiraling debt problems.

Loans to Greece from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund are conditional upon this new austerity package.  And Greece is dependent on its creditors.  If the EU and the IMF do not deliver on a rescue package, Greece will have to default on its debts -- a situation that would have repercussions across the European Union.

But European governments have their own problems to worry about, not least tax-paying voters who are not happy about bailing out the Greek economy.

Howard Wheeldon, senior strategist at BGC Partners in London, says EU nations have to pull together to keep the Greek economy afloat.

"If the European Central Bank cannot help the ailing situation of certain members, then what is the point of having the euro?" asked Wheeldon.  "This situation and that of other countries who have run into trouble, or may yet run into trouble, has to be dealt with in a concerted manner by the government of the rest."

Part of Wednesday’s action was organized by two Greek unions who went on a 24-hour strike and organized public marches.  Similar events have turned violent in the past; just last month, three clerks died after their bank was hit with firebombs.

And it is not just public protest that the leading Socialist Party has to worry about.  On Tuesday, a government deputy defected, narrowing the government’s majority in parliament.

Wheeldon says it is a volatile situation, but Greece and the European Union will get through it.

"We will get through [this] crisis.  If Greece is to default, or does default, which it probably will at some point, it's not going to bring the euro down and it's certainly not going to bring the EU down," Wheeldon said.

The Greek austerity package is to be voted on later this month.

You May Like

At Khmer Rouge Court, Long-Awaited Verdict Approaches

First phase of trial, which is coming to an end, has focused on forced exodus of Phnom Penh in 1975 - and now many are hopeful justice will be served More

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities More

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

Downing of Malaysian airliner, allegations of cross-border shelling move information war in war-torn country to a new level More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
July 31, 2014 8:13 PM
The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.

AppleAndroid